Some youngsters live in communities that Costa Ricans generously describe as vulnerable. For the most part these are areas that have not become communities because many of the residents are new arrivals or because there is the constant turnover of criminals and drug addicts that keep the honest member of the area on alert.
The Fuerza Pública tried to do something last week to generate a feeling of community. In some 18 such locations, officers put on shows for youngsters and handed out much-needed school supplies.
The areas are the districts of Catedral, Hospital, Merced, El Carmen, San Juan de Dios in San José, Los Guido in Desamparados, San Pedro de Montes de Oca, Tirrases in Curridabat, Los Cuadros in Goicoechea, Rincón Grande in Pavas, León XIII in Tibás, La Carpio in La Uruca, Los Sitios in Moravia, 25 de Julio en Hatillo and Los Pinos, Tejarcillos, Juan Rafael Mora and Juan Pablo II in Alajuelita.
These are the areas most frequently seen in videos of police raids or when a body is dumped on the street.
But there was none of that over the weekend, as officers stressed recreation and produced clowns to help.
Some of the gifts included school uniforms, which is a major expense for poor families.
Meanwhile along the Río San Juan in northern Costa Rica, other officers were slogging through high humidity and hot weather to bring similar gifts of school supplies to isolated areas there. They could not use boats due to the current tension between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which owns the waterway.
The communities are Pereira, El Jobo, Delta Costa Rica, Puerto Lindo and Barra del Colorado Norte and Sur. In addition to school supplies officers handed out balloons, candy and toys. Some 25 officers took part and spent 10 hours visiting the locations where most residents live on what they can grow or catch.